Saving Nepal’s Best for Last

After our stay at the comfortable, but basic, Seti River Camp, it was a complete shock to our senses when we arrived at the Kasara Chitwan Resort.  We were experiencing luxury overload!

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The reception area

I was expecting a room, not a stand alone suite.  When I opened my door, I entered this private courtyard.  The photo doesn’t do it justice, but I was too focused on enjoying my surroundings to put much energy into a photo shoot.

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Air conditioned bedroom on the left, bathroom with open air shower on the right, and a beautiful courtyard in between.  Those are little ponds on either side of the boardwalk, complete with resident frogs.

After getting settled, we headed out to hunt for  black rhinos.  Success!   We saw several.  My favorite is this shot, because he seemed a bit bored by us gawkers.

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So what the heck are YOU looking at?

Our mode of transportation during our “safari” was a platform mounted on the elephant’s back.  It was not the most comfortable ride, for us, or probably for the elephant either, but it was a fun experience.

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We didn’t see any tigers, but the group before us caught sight of one.  After hearing about the elephant’s reaction, I was just as glad that we hadn’t.  There was a whole lot of stomping, bouncing and trumpeting going on!

For me, the best part of our visit was when we were able to interact with the elephants in the water.

The rest of the group had heard all about my nephew Jack, and how much he LOVES elephants, so Jim was gracious enough to take stills with my camera, while Binoy, our wonderful guide, shot video with my iPhone.

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First trick was getting on
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Wait, I thought I was going to be washing–not getting washed!
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Now I have to get down
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Peter, Marilyn and I giving our buddy a nice massage, using smooth stones.

These are such beautiful, intelligent and gentle creatures.  What a privilege to send time with them.

Check out the toenails on her.  Fun fact–elephants sweat through their toenails.

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Mike, can I keep her?

While at Kasara, I kept thinking about these lines from the song “Camelot”.  “The rain will never fall till after sundown; By 8 the morning clouds must disappear”, because that’s exactly how it worked during our two days there.  In fact, we were extremely lucky during our entire trip.  We couldn’t have asked for better weather–slightly overcast when we were trekking, which is much more comfortable than walking under a hot sun.

The resort has a lovely pool, so I was very glad I’d packed my bathing suit.  Again, no photos.  Sometimes you have to put the camera down and just soak in your surroundings (literally).

It also has a great second story bar overlooking the pool.  I decided to skip the ox cart ride  through the village, and partake in a margarita instead.  That’s what my sisters, hermaña preferida, and cousins would have wanted me to do, and I couldn’t let them down.

Time to fly back to Kathmandu, and another lovely hotel, The Gokarna Forest Resort.

During our Nepal trip, we added three travelers, Ann from Indianapolis, was born in Indonesia.  She and her Turkish husband met in veterinary school.  Karl is a retired navy chaplain who served in Iraq.  He and Eugenia were born in Hong Kong, but have lived in San Diego when they are not traveling the world.  Their fluency in Chinese was much appreciated by all of us when we got to Tibet.

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Standing, left to right: Marilynn, Marie, Ann, Eugenia, Karl, Peter, Dick.  Me, practicing my squat, an essential skill for the airport rest rooms.  Jim is missing because he is the photographer.

Here are Marie and Dick, enjoying their first class seats.

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Jim, Peter and Marie will be returning to the USA after our last night together at the Gokarna, while the remaining six of us head off to Tibet.  The farewell dinner is an OAT tradition when the main trip ends, and what a farewell dinner it was!

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Ann, me, Marilyn, Marie and Eugenia

Yes, we needed help getting dressed, and no, we didn’t get to keep the saris.

Some of the men played dress up too.

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Karl, Binoy, Jim

It was the perfect ending for three fantastic weeks together.  Little did we know, but the remaining six of us were going to have a very different experience in Tibet.

 

 

 

 

Pokhara

What a fun city!  Unlike Kathmandu, you can actually walk alone along the streets of Pokhara  without fear of never finding your way back to your hotel.

What to do during our three nights there?

Of course there were temples to visit.  This poor rooster seemed to know his minutes were numbered. Yes, Hindus still do animal sacrifices.  But maybe he’ll get lucky and be reincarnated as a cow.

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When this guy saw my camera, he insisted that I photograph him and the rooster.

The next temple could only be reached by boat.

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What made this visit special were the sweet boys collecting money for the Red Cross.

“50 rupees, madam?”

“Okay”, and as I’m reaching for my money I hear, “100 rupees, madam?”

“But you said 50”

“Okay madam, 50”.

He had such a sweet smile, I gave him 1,000 rupees, the equivalent of $10.  THAT guaranteed me a photo shoot with the entire group, who then insisted upon taking MY picture.  My sweet negotiator is the one in the middle.

The one in the middle was my salesman
The one in the middle was my salesman

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Next up, a visit to the Parakhawking Project.  Please do a YouTube search to learn more  about the vulture and hawk rescue project.

Believe  it or not,  this beautiful creature is a vulture, who, if you decide to leap off a mountain, will fly  with you, locating the  updrafts, thereby  guaranteeing you’ll have a spectacular flight..

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Unfortunately, he was molting, so he has been grounded for the next few months.   What a disappointment– I was SO ready to sign up!  So since parasailing was not an option, what else could I do with my free afternoon?   Oh so many options…how to choose?
Who could resist this menu of services?  Certainly not I!

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As tempting as it was to come home with dreadlocks, I decided to be a little less adventurous and settled for a manicure. It WAS an interesting experience.  I’d never had my cuticles pushed back with a coin before.    And the choice of polish was greatly simplified when there are only three  colors, all with sparkles.

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It sorta made me wonder what my hair would have looked like if I’d chosen a dye job.

The  best part was my manicurist dried my nails by waving a magazine back and forth over my fingers.  Again, I thought of my hair…and what might have been.

After a round of shopping, it was clearly time for music.  Initially, we thought the Bollywood Dance Club had potential, until we gave their sign a more thorough inspection.  Let’s put it this way. Although we didn’t go inside to verify, we suspected the club might have fit right in with New York’s pre-Guliani Times Square or Boston’s combat zone.

Instead, we opted for Emon’s Rooftop Cafe.  We ended up being the sole (but enthusiastic) customers here.

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Sitting on the balcony overlooking the street, sucking down a local beer, we enjoyed a rendition of “I want to hold your hand”, Nepalese style.   It doesn’t get much better than that!

Mr Toad’s Wild Ride

Not even a pedicab ride through Hanoi’s old town could prepare me for the rickshaw tour of Thamel, the tourist section of Kathmandu.  There is no way these photos can capture the experience–the bumpy roads, the breakneck speed, the sounds and smells.  It was quite a ride!  

My view
Eugenia and Karl in front, Peter and Marie close behind
Marilynn and our guide Binoy
My driver–i survived, and am still smiling!